8 Kid-Friendly Holiday Things to Do in Waterloo Region

A boy standing with Santa and Mrs. Claus

It’s in the air – colder temperatures, the appearance of snowflakes, and a feeling that lets you know the holidays have arrived in Waterloo Region!

From festivals (like the annual Christkindl Market) to festive events, there’s certainly something for everyone to enjoy this holiday season – especially if you’re seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child.

Check out these Kid-friendly Holiday Things to Do that will appeal to the child in all of us!

Holiday Trains

the CP Holiday Train lit up at dusk

CP Holiday Train

The CP Holiday Train makes its annual stop in Cambridge and Ayr on Friday, November 29th. Kids will love the music, entertainment (this year’s train features Alan Doyle and Beautiful Band), and decorated train cars that light up the night. This is also a fundraiser for local food banks, so get the kids to bring along non-perishable food items or a cash donation – it’s a great way for them to give back during this season of giving.

Waterloo Central Railway Santa Train

Waterloo Central Railway is also ready for the season, with its popular Santa Trains, and its award-winning THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Rides! Make sure you book early, as these trains sell out annually.

Santa Claus Parades

Volunteers spelling out Merry Christmas in the Kitchener Santa Claus Parade

Kitchener Santa Claus Parade

Who doesn’t love a parade? For many, the annual Santa Claus Parades that happen throughout Waterloo Region have become a family tradition. Click here for a list of when Santa will be coming to your town!

Santa Claus riding a float with a reindeer at the Hespeler Santa Claus Parade

Hespeler Santa Claus Parade

Holiday Theatre Especially for Kids

Drayton Entertainment continues its holiday tradition of staging a Panto – an interactive show where kids can cheer the good guys, and boo the villains! This year families can enjoy the fun-filled adventure of Sleeping Beauty – the Panto at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Or, take in Drayton’s other holiday show, Elf – The Musical, happening at the Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge.

Centre In The Square also invites families to take in its special holiday shows. November 26th enjoy A Charlie Brown Christmas; there’s also the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony’s annual Yuletide Spectacular– this year featuring readings from The Nutcracker.

Speaking of which, Ballet Jörgen also presents The Nutcracker – a magical holiday tradition in a uniquely Canadian setting.

KW Symphony performing their annual Yuletide Spectacular

Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Yuletide Spectacular

Holiday Light Displays

Nothing makes a child’s eyes sparkle like taking in a holiday light display, and there are several to enjoy in Waterloo Region. Wonders of Winter is a festival of lights that happens in Waterloo Park. You can walk through the displays, or take in the lights while enjoying a horse drawn trolley ride.

Kitchener’s Victoria Park is home to Christmas Fantasy – a spectacular display of festive lights that adorn Victoria Park’s buildings, trees and bridges.

Old Post Office

The Old Post Office in Cambridge features its Winter Holiday Light Show every Thursday through Sunday night until January 1st. The light shows are projected on to the Water St. side of the Old Post Office, and take place every hour from 7 – 9 pm.

Over at Bingemans, families can enjoy the largest drive thru holiday light display in southwestern Ontario at Gift of Lights. Enjoy over 300 animated and static light displays from the comfort (and warmth!) of your own vehicle, as well as 2 spectacular drive-through light tunnels!

Chanukah will also be celebrated with the lighting of a giant menorah in Waterloo Public Square at Chanukah in the Square Xl. The lighting ceremony begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 22nd.

two girls in front of the menorah at Waterloo Public Square

Chanukah in the Square

Christmas in Cambridge – Candyland

On Saturday, December 7th, Central Park in Cambridge transforms into a kids’ paradise known as Candyland – a place of candy and magic!

Willy Melt greeting visitors at Christmas in Cambridge - Candyland

Christmas in Cambridge – Candyland

Enjoy the fun, games and festivities happening in Central Park – and bring along your skates to enjoy the Central Park skating rink.

Candyland is part of the annual Christmas in Cambridge celebrations.

see christmas in cambridge with the winter ice and lights show

Christmas in Cambridge – Candyland

Enjoy a Country Christmas at Doon Heritage Village

It’s a chance for kids to slow down, put the tech away, and enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas.

Father Christmas outside the blacksmith shop at Doon Heritage Crossroads

Doon Heritage Crossroads Country Christmas

Each Sunday in December, Doon Heritage Village invites families to experience a 1914 Country Christmas in the village. Take a horse-drawn wagon ride, sing along with Christmas carols and meet Father Christmas. There’s lots to learn as the kids take in the sights and sounds of Christmas past.

Admission to Country Christmas includes entry to the Waterloo Region Museum, where you can take in its current exhibit galleries – it’s two great museums for the price of one!

 Kids’ Hop at the Kitchener Market featuring Eric Traplin and Santa Claus

Get into the Christmas spirit at this special holiday edition of Kids’ Hop on Tuesday, December 17th at 11 am! Children’s entertainer Erick Traplin and Santa Claus are teaming up to bring the very best holiday music to kids and tots at the Kitchener Market. Food donations can be made to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

Kids’ Hop

PD Day Fun December 6th

Yes – December brings with it a PD Day for WCDSB kids!

Looking for ways to keep them busy? The Waterloo Region Museum, Schneider Haus, McDougall Cottage, and Bingemans all feature special PD Day programming to keep your kids happy and busy!